The week’s nine match up between the Buffalo Bills (3-4) and Houston Texans (6-1) at Reliant Stadium will not only be a physical one, but it will also mark Bills’ defensive end Mario Williams‘ return to Houston, where he played for six seasons and racked up enough stats to earn him that huge $100 million payday with Buffalo this past off-season. Both teams are coming off of bye weeks, which means not only should they both be well rested, they should both be hungry for a win to get the second half of their season started on the right foot.
The Bills offense this season has been good at times and awful at others; they are currently ranked 19th in total offensives yards gained per game (349 yards), 29th in passing yards gained per game (198.7 yards), third in rushing yards gained per game (150.3 yards) and 12th in points scored per game (24.4 points), while their defense has simply been atrocious – ranking 32nd in both points allowed per game (32.4 points), as well as rushing yards allowed per game (176.9 yards), 31st in total offensive yards allowed per game (424.1 yards) and 22nd in passing yards allowed per game (247.3 yards).
Ryan Fitzpatrick is the barometer for the Bills offense: if he plays well, the team usually has a great chance to win; however, when he plays poorly (which is more often than not), Buffalo loses. This season Fitzpatrick has passed for 1,435 yards, 15 touchdowns (sixth in NFL), nine interceptions and completed 61% of his attempts. The Bills major offensive weapon this season has been C.J. Spiller, who has rushed for 523 yards and four scores on just 72 carries, while also hauling in 19 receptions for another 173 yards and an endzone trip. Fitzpatrick will have to get the ball down field to Steve Johnson (32 receptions for 387 yards and 4 TD) and Donald Jones (20 receptions for 241 yards and three TD) versus the Texans dominating defense in order to open things up for them in the running game. The Bills must find a way to play inspired football on the defensive side because if they don’t, this Houston offense will literally run through them. Williams, Nick Barnett, Jairus Byrd and the rest of the Buffalo defense, you’re on the clock.
The Texans offense has been solid all season long and currently rank ninth in total offensive yards gained per game (371.4 yards), 18th in passing yards gained per game (230.6 yards), sixth in rushing yards gained per game (140.9 yards) and second in points scored per game (30.9 points), while their defense has been one of the more dominating units in the league ranking third in both total offensive yards allowed per game (283 yards) as well as rushing yards allowed per game (83 yards), fifth in passing yards allowed per game (200 yards) and sixth in points allowed per game (18.3 points).
Matt Schaub is the ideal quarterback for the kind of offense that the Texans run; he doesn’t need to throw the ball 40 times in a game due to their terrific running game, but when they do need him to make a play with his arm, he can make almost any throw on the field. This season Schaub has passed for 1,650 yards, 10 touchdowns, four interceptions and completed 63.1% of his attempts. When Schaub looks to make plays with his arm, his two main targets are Andre Johnson (34 receptions for 444 yards and two TD) and Owen Daniels (33 receptions for 416 yards and four TD), but the main focal point on the Houston offense is running back Arian Foster. This season, Foster has rushed for 659 yards (fifth in NFL) and nine touchdowns (first in NFL) on 168 carries (first in NFL). along with catching 12 passes for 77 additional yards and making one trip to the endzone. The Texans physical defense is led by J.J. Watt, the reason why they let Williams walk in the off-season. This season Watt has recorded 34 tackles, 9.5 sacks (first in NFL), seven tackles for a loss, 10 pass deflections (four have resulted in an interception for a teammate) and two fumble recoveries.
This game won’t even be that close. Houston is just that good, and Buffalo clearly isn’t; I’ll take the Texans to win big in this one. Houston 34 – Buffalo 16.